Ill. Capitol dome

The Illinois Capitol dome

More legislation Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) and Reps. Curtis J. Tarver II (D-25th) and Kam Buckner (D-26th) shepherded through the General Assembly has become law by the stroke of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s pen.

So far this month, Pritzker has signed five bills into law that Peters sponsored.

From Jan 1, Senate Bill 2116 will provide young adults in Department of Juvenile Justice custody with civics education as they near their release dates.

“Generations of people have fought and died to secure our rights, and one of the cornerstones of our society is that someone who is in prison doesn’t lose those rights once they’re released,” Peters said in a statement. “Knowing what your rights are and how they can be used can be confusing, especially for kids in DJJ who have likely never exercised them before.”

“With other states recently making it harder to exercise the right to vote, I’m proud to be the sponsor of legislation here in Illinois that will work to ensure that everyone knows what their rights are.”

House Bill 1765 prohibits law enforcement from conducting background checks on people solely because they participated in open public meetings.

“Law enforcement using background checks to intimidate people from participating in the very hearings that will hold them accountable should set off red flags for everyone as something that should not be permitted to happen,” Peters said. “This is a shady practice that intentionally sets up barriers in the fight to win real safety and justice for all.”

SB 654 guarantees students at least a half hour of daily supervised, unstructured play time from kindergarten through third grade. Physical education doesn't count, computers and electronic devices can't be used during the period, and it can't be taken away as punishment.

“Giving kids the chance to run around and play with their friends every day will go a long way toward making school a more enjoyable experience for students,” Peters said.

SB 652 changes the membership quorum of a Chicago Public Schools local school council from seven to four; Peters crafted the legislation so that LSCs can fill vacancies even when the council itself is operating with a large number of vacancies.

“Parents, students and other members of the community have the right to have a say in how the schools in their area are run, and local school councils are how that right is realized,” Peters said. “If a small technical rule prevents them from being able to meet, then they need to have the recourse to fix that issue, and this law accomplishes this.”

Another CPS-oriented bill, HB 15 — which Tarver sponsored with him — requires the district to provide written notification of situations involving student misconduct and discipline to the parents and guardians of both perpetrators and victims.

Peters called it a transparency measure.

“I think every parent probably expects that fights in schools are going to happen, but that doesn’t mean they should be kept in the dark when they do,” he said. “If parents aren’t aware of what’s going on at their kids’ schools, then it’s entirely possible that their kids might not get the treatment for trauma they need simply because their parents don’t know they need it.”

“Requiring the creation, storing, and distribution of a written record will help the parents, students, and schools deal with misconduct in an open and transparent way.”

Buckner's bill, SB 1847, requires businesses with more than 99 employees to certify compliance with state equal pay laws. They must disclose federal employment records to the Illinois Department of Labor and report how they set compensation for employees and how they correct wage disparities.

Buckner's previous legislation has established fines for equal pay violations of up to $10,000 per employee.

“No one should face discrimination in the workplace or lower wages because of the color of their skin or any factor that isn’t based on their ability as an employee,” Buckner said said in a statement. “Enhancing protections against discrimination will help expand economic opportunity and uplift people and communities that have too often been denied fair treatment.”

“To build a brighter, more equitable future, Illinois must be a leader in preventing the unjust practices of the past,” he said. “I will continue to fight for equal pay for equal work so that every person in our community can be paid fairly for their labor.”

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